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tv   Tavis Smiley  WETA  September 26, 2012 1:00am-1:30am EDT

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tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight conversation with wyclef jean. he is out with a new book called "purpose: an immigrant's story." we are glad you joined us. a conversation which wyclef is coming up now. always the right time to do the right thing. by doing the right thing. to completely eliminating
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hungerwalmart committed $2 billion toas we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. please welcome wyclef jean. he is out with a new book. a good good to have you back.
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5 i am good. how are you? >> last time i saw you you were rocking the stage at the aids concert. you killed that thing. >> we created a new two-step. >> that was quite a day. we enjoyed that. you started this book talking about the earthquake in haiti. it is interesting to me that you chose to start with that event. good why? >> it was bigger than anything i
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have ever done to go back to a place in 24 hours and the idea of thousands of people dead on the ground, the idea of kids screaming your voice and you know they only have two or three minutes to live, and you are telling them it is going to be ok but knowing they are not going to be ok, in a peaceful way. i have never seen hotels turn to morgues. i have never had to go to a cemetery and see undertakers putting more than one person in al hole. i have never seen a situation where you tell the person to stay there and make sure everything is ok, and they shoot a person in the middle of the earthquake, and he dies and ends
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up in that hole. there was a time in my life when i came back to america of. one of the things i should have done was sick with the psychiatrist, because a lot of times we feel we do not have to do that, but you could see my face, when i go back there, i do not understand how you can describe, but the strength of these people, amputations with no drugs, people getting their legs cut off and all kinds of things. i will never see something like that. it was important to see firsthand, to give the viewer what that was like for me on the
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ground. >> for you to start your memoir like that means it was a similar moment in your life that changed you in some way, so how has that changed you? how fundamentally did it change in who you are to be important enough to lead your memoir with it? >> i understood the importance of life past debts. before that, i did not get that, and moving forward, sometimes blunt honesty is going to hurt a group of people, including myself, including a lot of others, but history will tell the story if you do not tell it yourself, and as much as
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we give life to value is as quickly as we will leave the earth, so anybody trying to influence a group of people will soon be silent, so when you are silent, what have you left behind? these are some of the things i realize. one time i heard president barack obama speak, and he said, i am running with the urgency of running, and i did not understand what he meant at the time, and after the quake i decided i would run for president, i ran because of the urgency of saying, over 52% of the population is youth. >> that is a great line. he is borrowing that from dr.
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kean. -- king. the fierce urgency of now. let me follow you there. why was the answer for you after feeling that urgency why was the answer attempting to run for president of haiti? >> when i came to america, harry belafonte, dr. kean, there is a time when there is a group of people, and you find yourself in the middle of these people, and they are calling you a leader. they have to say there is something going on.
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me going back in forests being from that part of the country, after the earthquake, and what sparked in my head was katrina, iraq, katrina. 250,000 people under the rubble, 80% of the people living on less than $2 a day. wet was the greatest asset possess? human capital. i said, who is going to negotiate with these people. i have been wearing my flag to get a group of people to pay attention to this country. this is the time there is a soft spot and they feel week. who is going to be there for better policies and legislation? i felt with my passion and the
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youth behind me, i was the man for the job. tavis: there were some technical issues that kept you from running, but how did you perceive the efforts to keep you from the ballot? >> i got bamboozled. not in the sense of being emotional, and in a sense of the law. i was a diplomat five years prior to the current president now, who is a friend of mine with a diplomatic passport, and my title was ambassador at large, so the residency laws do not really apply, because how would you give me a five-year
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passports if i am not a haitian citizen? the same goes for my uncle who also ran and was also bamboozled, so i want you to understand the reason i did not fight if any further is because looking at the history of my country and them already labeling me a populist before i got started, i would never have youth rise of from bloodshed just to get our. when we need now is educational revolution. tavis: this book is brutally honest about a number of things. i want to go through your attempt to be brutally honest,
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so we were talking about youth rising up and bloodshed. you talk about how you went looking for somebody after the and you are glad you did not find him, because you might have done something you had no business doing. i will let you tell the story. >> being with my wife who is my greatest killer common -- greatest pillar, in haiti we painted a picture of how it was going down, and when i got to the cemetery, the hole was supposed to have one or two people. this guy was putting in seven bodies and taking the money and keeping in, so when i put one of my young guys, this guy, his
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daughter had just died in the earthquake, and he has tattoos of wyclef jean. i tell you that because a man who is going to tattoo you on it, that is indeed statement , so when i left him and got to where they got to and they said somebody had killed him, i completely lost my mind. i forgot i was in the middle of an earthquake. i was like, let's around the boys up. it was clear you could see at times there was a human and anger side, and loading things up because we said, this guy is not going to die in vain to
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reagan my wife is like, what are you doing? really think about what are you doing and sort of diffuse the situation, but had she not diffuse the situation, perhaps it would have been another story. i could have lost my mind, when there for some form of revenge, and ended up being part of the rubble at the time. tavis: you talk about the allegations that made national news here because of your celebrity common the allegations of your embezzling or lifting funds from your foundation. you take that head on at the moment. >> the first one was i am proud of the organization and the work the organization has done and that i hope they continue doing.
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you cannot run for president and the foundation at the same time. if i feel like the charity has had no challenges, but clearly the idea of pocketing funds, i denounced that over and over again, and i call it ludicrous, and this idea of i am going to put my country on the map, one thing we do is you have to have government. when there is a problem you fix it with government, so we made sure we address the issue and fixed it. tavis: you did not allegations you were personally profiting
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from the situation. >> it was ludicrous the idea or the perception or the thought , but my second book is going to be called, they tried to j. edgar hoover me. before there was me, there were many that were set up in different ways, and i do not want to get into that right now. tavis: there are some americans who have a real problem with people coming in from other countries and constantly waving their flags. you see it in boxing matches. you see it on the streets in protest where people are waving the flag of their home country,
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and some americans get really angry of that, and you are one of those immigrants who has been very proud about wearing the haitian flag, waving it. what do you say to americans who say if you love your country that much, stay there, but all that flag-waving in this country of other flags, you say what to id? >> that is a good question. first let's start with america, because america is a melting pot of immigrants, so if you took all of the immigrants out of america, you would be missing a lot of flavor. the reason we love america so much is because america is the only place you can actually come in and wave your flag. being from another country,
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clearly you are in the united states of america, and the thing america allows you to do is to be able to -- you are waving the flag to say, we are here in america, and we made it, so the saying america loves you to be is it is the country of opportunity, so even when you go to the boxing matches, the fighter is in america, so you are proud to be in america, so i never look at us immigrants -- you have what is called the american dream, so without the american you would not have america, so it was important. when we wave the flag and we allow you to wave the flag, and when you come to the restaurants with us, we participate in the food. we all participate in the
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parades together, so i do not consider myself as an outsider, i am waving the flag because i am not american. i am waving the slide because i am happy to be part of the american dream. in tavis: it jumped out on me and when we talk about the topic. it has always been hot subject. the immigration debate never seems to cover certain americans for certain persons from certain places. the immigration debate is always about spanish-speaking citizens. what do you make of the fact that this debate never seems to
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for me it was important -- "the score"was created and how it was created, because fans have this cd, and the cd has love in it.
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it has lost in a. it has the trail. it has spirituality and politics -- betrayal and poverty. it is uncomfortable in that it puts my wife reliving this, but if it is not like i do not love my wife, but at a time there was a love triangle, and keep in mind the sensitive issue and now. -- and the sensitive issue was rethinking the child was my child, and sitting where i was
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sitting there was nothing in my mind to make me think different, but i want to go into that and the child was born and has a beautiful father and mother, but in the time of why did the fugees break up, it was important to say that was the contribution of what led them to break out. >> they you feel bad about that? >> looking back at it, i feel bad about a few things ended -- i did when i was 20. feeling bad about something and destiny having a way where they
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are going to put something forward, meaning every action has a reaction, and would we have created the score with the magnitude of the feeling you got succumb mommy as a producer -- feeling you got, me as a producer, i can say a lot of it was around a lot of emotions and things we were going through. >> tell me very quickly the story that your daddy beat you down the street, with your owhi dndn the street, and carrying of boombox -- carrying a boom box. >> basically, my father being a caribbean minister, one day i stole a radio, and i took it to school, showing off how big d it was and how bad i was at the
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time. once my father figured out where i left the radio, he got his and he beat me all the way back home, with some real hard thugs on the block say, this dude is getting a beating. it was like crucifixion, and he did that, and it was terrible at the time. whoever you call, you are going to die with this person. that is what they put in your head, but that a lot -- those prison, and sometimeseitherigre you have to take charge oyour children.
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would i put my daughter -- we are living in a new generation, but the idea of honesty and there are certain things you cannot do was what my dad was showing main. >> we are glad to have you on the show. the new book is called "purpose: an immigrant's story." that is it for tonight. as always, keep the faith. today's show, visit tavis smiley at tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation with -- for a look at race to the white house. we will see you then. king had that said there is right thing.
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by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway and we have work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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